Lute and Guitar as basso continuo Instruments
Nowadays, ancient music orchestras use lute, theorbo, and guitar as accompaniment instruments. It is now common knowledge in biology and archaeology that dinosaurs are the direct ancestors of birds, and in the same way, these instruments are now being used for basso continuo. In the early days of the revival of ancient music, the harpsichord was the only instrument that could be used as basso continuo Instruments. I Musich, Jean-Francois Paillard, Richter, Kurt Redel. No wonder, there were almost no lute players in those days. In addition, there were few instruments left in good condition, and very few replica makers.
At the same time, there was a misconception at the time that the lute was a special instrument that could not be found outside the gates, and that it was handed down like a secret art by a “secret society” of people. The main reason for this was the “Tablature” notation. This is a musical notation in which the “fingering” of the left hand is written on a piece of paper, mainly for “finished” pieces such as solo pieces (meaning not improvised). It is an extremely “rational” and “useful” notation that can be instantly “converted” into notes regardless of the tuning of the instrument, but for those who are used to seeing ordinary staff notation, it certainly looks like some kind of special “spell”. For this reason, the revival of the lute was slower than that of other instruments.
In the orchestras of those days, harpsichordists used to play only “pseudo general bass”. moreover, which were full of jangling passages, and by modern harpsichord. By the time of Leonhardt and Harnoncourt, “jangling passages” had indeed disappeared, but the emphasis on the harpsichord had not changed much. But what about now? It is not uncommon to find baroque orchestras with star lutist, such as Il Giardino Armonico. As I recall, it was Christopher Hogwood who first used the lute and guitar in Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”.
However, when I think about it, the lute was probably the most popular accompaniment instrument in those days (the 18th century), rather than the harpsichord. In terms of price and mobility, the lute family of instruments would have outnumbered the keyboard instruments, both in terms of the number of instruments and the number of players. In addition, there must have been many who played both.
In the past, the lute was generally considered to have a low sound, but a recent evaluation shows that this is not the case. Such an evaluation may be attributed to the fact that there were problems with the instrument, its players, and its “technique” in the early days of ancient music. Nowadays, there are many excellent lute players and their playing techniques have been developed, so they are often used to play the basso continuo part in baroque orchestras. Some orchestra conductors even use more than one lute player. It is true that the attack of the lute is softer than that of the harpsichord, which has metal strings plucked by birds’ wings. But on the other hand, in the bass register, the theorbo can play notes an octave lower than the harpsichord, and at a much louder volume. The lute player also knows how to avoid being buried in the orchestra by using a lot of “arpeggios”. On the guitar, the “rasgueado technique” (reverse clawing) can be used to obtain a strong attack. Another advantage of the guitar and lute that it is able to play with a strength and weakness that the harpsichord cannot, especially in delicate performances such as song accompaniment. For this reason, the lute and theorbo were favored in the French “Air de cour”. At the Palace of Versailles, there was a lute master, Robert de Visee. #baroque #bassocontinuo #lute #theorbo #片山俊幸